Masculinity Week on The Overtake

We explore the notion of masculinity

9th May 2018

Does anyone even know what masculinity is anymore?

It’s of those slightly ephemeral words — it definitely means something but it’s hard to pin down exactly what. In fact, its meaning seems to change depending on who you talk to.

Muscular, maybe. Driven, perhaps. But you could apply both of those terms to some of the most feminine women in Hollywood, for example, and it doesn’t make them masculine.

More than anything it’s probably about strength. Physically, psychologically, of character, of will.

But despite this, we know men suffer emotionally and mentally and, because of this notion of masculinity, are often not equipped to deal with it. Around three-quarters of suicides in 2016, which is the most recent data available, were men. While there are always numerous factors when someone takes their own life, we know that better support and having someone to talk to can help — something men often do not have easy access to.

Society’s view of masculinity is also about testosterone — a substance that virtually every human being on the planet has, but men tend to have more of. It’s often said to be what makes men more likely to be risk takers, competitive and aggressive. But that’s an old view and modern research doesn’t really back this up. In fact, it can have more to do with the way those qualities are measured — something you’ll understand if you know women who routinely miss a contraceptive pill or two.

Rather than developing naturally during cavemen times and being carried through to the modern day, masculinity is likely to have been created by humans and evolved over time — which perhaps explains why it’s so nebulous.  

That’s why this week on The Overtake we’re taking a closer look at the concept of masculinity and exploring topics around it. Are there masculine jobs, and if so, have they always been considered that way? How does masculinity factor into mass-shootings, considering so few women commit them? What on EARTH is a man-cave anyway? For answers to these questions and many more, stay tuned.

9th May 2018